The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator has told British voters it would be ‘insane’ to re-elect Nigel Farage as an MEP, as the Brexit Party stormed to a commanding lead in the polls.
Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt tweeted that the Brexit Party leader ‘would rather go to the pub than fight for British interests in Europe’ in his latest interjection in the UK’s European election campaign.
It comes after Mr Verhofstadt said he didn’t know whether Brexit would happen, and on the campaign trail with the Lib Dems said the coming vote was a chance to send message ‘to the continent to say never repeat Brexit again.’
In response to today’s news that Mr Farage’s party is currently predicted to romp home in first place in the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament, he tweeted: ‘Farage is a long sitting, career MEP in Brussels, with one of the lowest attendance rates.
‘He would rather sign in & go to the pub than fight for British interests in Europe. Sending him back would be insane!’
Last week a fly-on-the-wall documentary revealed Mr Verhofstadt’s senior aides mocking Theresa May, screaming ‘oh f*** off’ at at a TV screen showing Mrs May telling the Tory conference she wants a deal.
One told Mr Verhofstadt she was ‘most proud of you when you take on a Tory’, adding that the Conservative politician was ‘a f***er’.
Mr Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, joined the Liberal Democrats on the campaign trail on Friday saying they offer an ‘alternative to nationalism’.
Canvassing with leader Sir Vince Cable in London on Friday he predicted a Remain surge in the European Parliament elections.
Mr Verhofstadt insisted his presence was not foreign interference in the UK’s elections as he was ‘a Lib Dem’ and backing the party because it opposed Brexit.
Mr Verhofstadt said: ‘I think it’s important to show that the European liberals and democrats support Vince Cable.
‘Support the Lib Dems in this difficult fight in Britain, in these European elections.
‘Secondly, we want to show by coming here a message to the continent to say never repeat Brexit again.
‘I’m a Lib Dem. It’s natural that people are looking to the Lib Dems when it comes to European elections.
‘We want to be the alternative for nationalism and popularism. What I think is there will be a huge support for Remain.
‘I’m not here as a Brexit negotiator, I’m here as the leader of the liberals and democrats for Europe.’
Asked if his presence could be seen as foreign interference, Mr Verhofstadt said: ‘This is Europe. Europe, it’s all Europe.’
Asked whether the UK would leave the EU, Mr Verhofstadt, who is also leader of the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe, replied: ‘I don’t know. It’s a question to ask Mrs May at Westminster.’
He also said the Brexit process so far ‘had done more damage than has ever been predicted’ and that ‘people can change their opinion’.
Guy Verhofstadt, 66, was first elected to the European Parliament in 2009 – ten years after Nigel Farage first took his seat.
Today polls predicted that not only was the Brexit Party on course to win the European elections, it could even overtake the Tories in a general election.
In an Opinium poll in the Observer, focused on this month’s European elections, Nigel Farage’s new party is predicted to hoover up 34 per cent of the vote. The same poll gave Labour 21 per cent and put the Tories in a miserable fourth place with 11 per cent
But an even more extraordinary poll, commissioned by a Brexit Party donor and published in the Sunday Telegraph, said for the first time the Brexit Party would beat the Tories in a General Election.
The ComRes survey of voting intentions put Brexit on 21 per cent to the Conservatives’ 20, which would see Farage’s team win 49 seats, becoming the UK’s second biggest party after Labour, with 137.
Mr Farage has predicted his party membership will soon overtake the Tories’ 124,000, and told Andrew Marr that he would insist that Brexit Party MEPs join the UK’s Brexit negotiating team if the party does as well as expected on May 23.